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Five Great Stretches for Office Workers

 

Are you chained to a desk all day every day? 

If so, chances are that you experience headaches, neck pain, back pain, hip pain, or a whole host of other issues.

The fact is, our bodies aren’t designed to sit at a desk all day, we are meant to mobile!  Sitting for long periods of time, especially long periods of time that are repeated day after day can actually make your lower back stiffer or cause you other problems due to poor posture. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1529943004006205)

There are a few things you can do to reduce your pain, and make your day at the office less stressful on your body. These can be simple things – nothing drastic that will change your office or your daily routine.  One thing to be sure of, is that your workstation is properly set up, with a chair that fits you. Another is to take micro-breaks, a minute each half hour works great, where you just get up and walk around the office. However the easiest change that will reap the biggest reward, is stretching.

 

Stretch 1:Arm overhead stretch

Bend your arms behind your head, and try to scrub your shoulder blades. Stretch on each side for 30 seconds. This helps your shoulders, by stretching several muscles including your lats and triceps, which will help alleviate stiffness and heavy feeling in your shoulders.

Photo source: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise#2

 

 

 

 

 

Stretch 2: seated cat cow

The cat-cow stretch.  Sitting with your feet flat on the floor, inhale and round your back and shoulders, letting your head drop

forward so you get another great view of your lovely office carpet.  The exhaling, stretch up, arching your back and looking up at your beautiful ceiling.  Move back and forth through this 10 times slowly. This helps by increasing the fluid movement of the spine, which will help alleviate that stiff achy feeling in your back.

Photo source: © Barry Stone

http://yoga.about.com/od/yogasequences/tp/deskstretches.htm

 

 

 

Stretch 3: lateral reach

Have you seen Olympic divers?  this is your version – sit up tall, interlace your fingers, and stretch your hands in front of you, palms facing out – the bring your arms over your head, stretch up and hold 10 seconds, then bend to either side for 30 seconds each.  This helps the muscles all through your arms, right down to your wrists and hands which will help alleviate stiffness through them and into your upper back.

Photo source: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise#11

 

 

 

 

lumbopelvic twist

 

Stretch 4:

Sometimes a good twist deserves another, this stretch not only will help your lower back, but your hips as well but stretching your glute muscles. Cross one leg over the other then brace the opposite arm against the leg that’s on top as you grab your chair and slowly twist. Hold this one again for a good 30 seconds then switch to do the other side.

Photo source: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise#9

 

 

 

 

Stretch 5:cervical rolling

This one is a real head spinner, but the great thing about neck stretches and motions is a loose neck can lead to less tension headaches. Too many hours staring at a screen in one position can lead to poor posture and worsening pain. Some people have pain in the neck already so you should make sure you’re doing this in a pain free range as you slowly circle your head around 10 times clockwise and 10 times counter clockwise.  This isn’t a held stretch, but it can do wonders for any stiffness.

Photo source: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise#12

 

 

The one thing to keep in mind with all stretches is that they should NEVER be painful, it should at most feel like a moderate pull. Try to get yourself into a routine – every time you get up to get a coffee, run through these stretches to loosen up, or like we said earlier grab that extra minute and take a walk to loosen up the rest of your body.

 

By Scott Okrainetz, MPT

Physiotherapist